It looks like our office is going to stay open for the long haul. (I had serious doubts with the delta variant floating about.) So, I decided, it was time to replenish my desk snacks.
During a lunch break, I walked to the grocery store across the street, grabbed a basket, and started wandering the aisles.
I grabbed my favorite first - Cheez-Its. (Yum!) Then I added a pack of mixed flavor sandwich crackers that was on the shelf nearby. Next, a can of original Pringles went in to the basket. I also added some soft baked belVita bars (banana bread and oats & chocolate) to serve as backup breakfasts and emergency cookies. Then, two small boxes of Rip Van Wafels (snickerdoodle and chocolate brownie).
I wanted to add a bag of candy for the dish on my desk, but we all need to eat those mints that are still in there. (Seriously, come visit me and get some of those butter mints. Just ignore that they're in pink baby shower packages...)
This haul of (mostly) carbs and sugar joined the granola bars and trail mix packs that I already brought from home.
As I was filling my desk drawer, I realized that my preferred desk snacks all have a few things in common. They are shelf stable, one-handed food, that can be eaten without any dishes, and leave minimal mess. Maybe just a few crumbs or salty fingers.
Hopefully, I won't have to haul all of these snacks home again. For now, I'll be happy that I don't have to dart away from my computer to satisfy that singular crunchy/sweet craving that tends to befall me around 3pm each day.
What's your favorite desk snack?
We have several plants in our home. One I've had for over a decade.
This ardisia went from about 6 inches tall at purchase to over 6 feet in height. Also, I discovered - after two years of ownership - that it flowers.
Since our most recent move, this plant has not acclimated well. In our previous apartment, we needed to tie up the branches and do some pruning to keep the growth in check. Once in our new home, it spent 6 straight months dropping leaves and entire branches. While that activity has ebbed, it's looking sparse. There is some new growth, but this tree just seems to be hanging on.
I have mixed feelings about what to do.
Part of me wants a new plant that better fills the space, but then what do I do with this one? A decade is a really long time to own a plant. This plant has seen me through graduate school, marriage, three moves, and a kid. Also, it's taller than me by no small measure. I feel like I need to get it back to full health so that it can live another decade.
Plus, I miss the flowers. They stopped showing up after our move.
Now, that plant in the kitchen we just got that is looking quite sickly.... that I have no trouble replacing with a succulent.
At what point do you call it quits on a plant?
It was back to school for our city this week. Our kiddo's daycare is next to a high school and we walked through crowds of (thankfully, masked) teenagers on their way to class.
Confession: My school supply envy was real.
I was the kid who relished going shopping at Office Depot for new binders, paper, notebooks, folders, pens, pencil cases, erasers, colored pencils, paper clips, and planners. School supply aisles are one of my happy places. I could spend hours just looking at the offerings to select the perfect item to add to my backpack.
I remember that one office supply store used to have a deal where you could load up a paper grocery bag and get the entire contents for a ridiculously low cost. You better believe I tetrised everything I could in there (with my mom's help, of course). I probably fit things in that I didn't even need. Did anyone ever finish one of those pink erasers?
While my mom tried to have us "shop our closet" before we bought new, I always tried to find a way to get new school supplies. There was something about starting fresh each year that delighted me. To this day, I bounce when I walk down an office supply aisle. While I don't mindless buy like I used to (*don't look at my notecard bin*), I love it when I get the chance to pick up post-its or a pack of preferred pens.
Now that I have a kid of my own, I can't wait to enjoy this experience from the parent side of things. Bring me those back to school lists!
What's your favorite back to school activity?
Monday was my first day back at the office since March 2020.
I knew the return to in-person work was coming for weeks. Those were weeks of mental stress and intense Sunday scaries. So, I was delightfully surprised when everything was... fine.
In fact, it was more than fine. It was fun.
Yes, it was still weird and a little scary, but I was so excited to see people again that I was able to push all my other doubts aside. I had the very first in-person reference desk shift of the week and I found myself giving students overly enthusiastic greetings. They'd walk into the library and I would "Hi! Welcome! How can I help?" at them like a happy dog. It just felt so wonderful to connect again.
I am an introvert, but working at the desk again reminded me how much I love connecting with our campus community. As the Outreach librarian, my job is to connect with people. That is really hard to do through a screen. Now, I get to have those casual conversations that forge relationships again. I get to see our students smile (well - smize - behind a mask). I get to share the gratitude that comes from being helpful. My three days in the office reminded me of why I love my job and University so darn much.
What surprised you this week?
I go back to the office tomorrow. Tomorrow! And, I have intense Sunday scaries about it.
Part of this is due to my overall anxiety/panic attack issues. I am a creature of routine. When that routine gets disrupted I get cranky and anxious. I like my routines. I really like the groove I developed while working from home. I created boundaries between work and life. I got daycare routines nailed down. I managed to get a nice mix of me/work/family time figured out. Heck - I even was able to fit in more exercise than I had in the months before the pandemic.
Now all of that is being upended.
My fear is not so much about work - I LOVE my job - but about everything else. My anxiety rears its head when I can't control things. In this kind of situation, there is so much that is out of my control. I can make plans, set a new routine, wear a mask, wash hands, and all that... but there is just so little else in my control. I can't control what our office looks like. I can't control the actions of the people around me (although I will most certainly remind them to wear a mask). I can't decide if/when we roll back reopening, change our hours, and handle whatever chaos is coming with our planned remodel. I can't control the emotions of everyone in a year when we all have compounding trauma.
Plus, there are a ton of unknowns. How many people will visit the library? Will our teaching/reference workload be more online or in-person? Will there be an on-campus outbreak? Will my daycare end up closing? Will? Will? Will?
I hate not knowing.
What I am doing is taking it one day at the time and giving myself as much time and patience as I am able. Everything is changing - but everything always changes. This is just a bigger change - but it's still just a day-by-day thing like any other.
How are you handling all the recent changes?
For the past few weeks, I spent many evenings typing up a reading list for this website. It was a lot of data entry and linking. I started tracking what I read back in the summer of 2003. I don’t know why I started tracking but I’m glad I did. Going through this list has been a joyful version of “this is your life” - in books!
Every title was a glimpse back at a specific point in my life. For some titles, I not only remembered the book but I could recall where I read it and how I felt. Over 15 years of tracking is a lot of memories to fall into.
Doing this project showed me how reading changes with our stages of life. In college, my books were heavy on assigned texts and romance novels - you know, to lighten things up. Post college, I expanded my non-fiction reading since I no longer had to read books for class. Then there were the book club reads, hobby binge sprees, and the “hey, this must be popular for a reason” picks. Then there was the move to pregnancy and parenting books - with a lot of YA to take a break from all the adulting.
I am always curious about what books other people are reading. If you're the same, head on over to my reading list page. Books are listed in reverse chronological order.
Since I began tracking, I've read 961 books totaling 300,419 pages. I might need to get myself a cupcake when I hit 1,000.
On Friday, we ate lunch inside a restaurant for this first time in months. We thought the risk of eating inside was low because the restaurant had ceiling fans going, the doors open, very few people, and the tables were over 10 feet apart. It was both a scary and enjoyable experience. I miss restaurants. I miss going out. I miss seeing people. At the same time, I also do relish being near other people right now.
We had the kiddo with us and she surprised us by acting like a dream. She didn't make a mess, fuss, or try to run away. Then, we realized that this was all new to her. The last time we were able to eat inside is probably before her memory kicks in. She was looking around taking everything in. She loved waving at the restaurant staff and announcing "Bus!" each time one drove by. She even ate her first french fry.
I can't wait until we can start letting her explore the world again. At her age, she knows no different, but I want her to realize that there is so much more to see and do. Fingers crossed we are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel.
On Friday, I was lucky enough to receive my first COVID vaccine shot. My dose was given at a FEMA mass vaccination site in Maryland. It was a highly efficient operation. Only 20 minutes elapsed from the moment I arrived until the moment I left - that included the 15-minutes "let's make sure you don't have an awful allergic reaction" timeout. The entire tent complex was abuzz with organized activity and you could just sense the joy under people's masks.
What has stuck with my most about the whole systematic operation is the people. During my visit, I interacted with 10 individuals - some for only a few seconds. All of them are strangers to me and all of them will remain strangers to me. But each of these people has had a profound impact on my life. They made it possible for me to receive this vaccine. Without their hard work, I would not be rubbing this sore spot on my arm.
This vaccination site is a living reminder of the amount of unnamed individuals throughout the world who have gotten us to this point. All the scientists. All the nurses, doctors, caregivers, and healthcare professionals. All the contact tracers. All the people actually putting shots in other people's arms. All the people doing what I can only imagine is a mountain of paperwork and administrative activity (someone has to design, print, and distribute all those COVID vaccination cards).
So... many... people.
Thank you. Thank you each and every one of you.
The pandemic has caused the oddest things to bring me joy. Right now, it’s the deck construction happening out my kitchen window. The Husband and I (luckily) purchased a new condo in December - right before all of this *gesticulates wildly* popped off. After we moved in, we noticed the house across the alley behind us had a lot going on. Since February 2020 we’ve seen:
Right now, they are in the process of replacing said porch and staircase. They even moved where the staircase is located which completely changed the look of everything.
I am highly invested in this house now. It’s my own HGTV show.
First, I have some (possibly exciting) information. I've decided to turn this weekly post into a newsletter over on Substack. I greatly enjoy putting it together each week and I want to share it more broadly. While the links and all that will be the same, I do plan to add some new content to the newsletter in case you want to subscribe. If you're interested, head on over to my substack page and click subscribe. Like this blog, the newsletter is totally free.
Second, the local Capital Weather Gang declared winter officially over in the DC area. Good. I am done with the cold and am very excited to talk lunchtime walks in the sunshine.